Spectacular pass earns Gray first victory of 2022 in Croft finale
Carlin’s Oliver Gray made a superb move stick around the outside of Tower to score his first victory of the 2022 ROKiT F4 British Championship certified by FIA season in a curtailed and restarted Race 3 at Croft.
A jump start by pole-sitter Aiden Neate (Phinsys by Argenti) gifted Gray the lead and elevated his team-mate Louis Sharp to second spot, before red flags were thrown for Chris Dittmann Racing’s Joel Pearson after an accident at Tower.
When the race restarted to a revised 10-minute duration, Gray was beaten off the line by a lightning-fast Oliver Stewart, the Hitech GP racer surging from third to seize the upper hand on the inside at Clervaux.
The safety car made an appearance almost immediately after JHR Developments Joseph Loake collided with the barriers at Sunny In, and on the restart, Stewart was unable to escape the Carlin duo.
They reeled him in and, with Sharp stuck behind Stewart under braking for Tower on the fifth of seven laps, Gray saw his opportunity and seized it, sending a bold move around the outside to claim the race lead.
Sharp was able to quickly follow his team-mate through at the Jim Clark Esses, as did Alex Dunne, the championship leader up from tenth on the grid to third. Any subsequent opportunity to challenge Gray for the lead never materialised, and he took a first win of the 2022 season by 1.9 seconds.
“I saw Louis queue up on the inside and I thought ‘I don’t have much to lose here, really’. If it hadn’t have worked, I’d still have been third,” smiles Gray, re-calling his race-winning pass for the lead.
“It was a good move, I just managed to brake late and hold it around the outside. We’re just going to keep this momentum going as a team and we’re looking strong for the next races.”
Sharp reflects: “I went to the inside when I should have gone outside, and I got boxed inside. So that’s probably what cost us the win today, but I think we were able to race well, we showed some really good pace. It’s a good position to be in going into the break and I’m looking forward to the rest of the season.”
“I think going from P10 to P3 is always pretty good, so I’m happy about it,” said Dunne, after charging through the field. “It was definitely a weird and a tough weekend, to be honest I got pretty lucky with the situation in race three, but I made the best of what I had and a podium was all I could get today.”
Stewart was fourth and will take heart from a career-best result heading into his home event at Knockhill next time out, with JHR’s Georgi Dimitrov moving through the field to round out the top five.
Eduardo Coseteng (Hitech) was sixth, with Adam Fitzgerald (Argenti) another taking a career-best result with seventh. Michael Shin ended the weekend on a positive note with eighth in the leading Virtuosi Racing challenger, Noah Lisle (JHR) and Edward Pearson (Virtuosi) completing the points finishers.
Aiden Neate (Argenti) had battled up as far as seventh, complete with the Motul Fastest Lap, on the restart, but damaged his front wing and fell back to eleventh by the chequered flag. Daniel Mavlyutov (Hitech) was next, with Ugo Ugochukwu (Carlin) and Daniel Guinchard (Argenti) rounding out the finishers after a collision between the pair at the hairpin.
Gray’s victory makes him the stand-out challenger to Dunne at the top of the championship leaderboard heading into the four-week summer break, the latter how ahead by 51 points. Ugochukwu retains the upper hand over Guinchard in the Rookie Cup by 10 points, with his Carlin team 74 points to the good in the Teams Cup.
Knockhill, Fife, hosts the next three rounds of the championship over the weekend of 29 – 31 July 2022.
To view the provisional race result, click here.